Marine Maxims

Turning Leadership Principles into Practice

  • Subject: U.S. Marine Corps | Leadership
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Published:
    November 10, 2021
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    8 × 5 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    16 oz
Hardcover $26.95
Member Price $21.56 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


Marine Maxims is a collection of fifty principle-based leadership lessons that Thomas J. Gordon acquired commanding Marines over a career spanning three decades of service. Dealing with the complexities and challenges of the contemporary operating environment requires an internal moral compass fixed true. These maxims focus on developing inner citadels of character, moral courage, and the resilience to persevere in a contested domain where information is key. Its purpose is to provide future leaders with a professional development plan that will steel their resolve and enable them to lead with honor. 

Thematically, these maxims build upon a foundation of character, courage, and will. To be effective, a leader must model and inspire the will to persevere in the face of danger or adversity. The essence of effective leadership is credibility. A leader’s credibility is derived from a congruence of competence and character. Exceptional leaders are not remembered for what they accomplished, but how they did it. Those that lead with integrity will be remembered as a leader worth following.


About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“A great field guide of character and competence; the key components of trust and the core of leadership. A compilation of experiences to help shape your own. Tom sees life as an opportunity to learn and we should take advantage of it.” —RADM Brian  Brakke, former commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command
“Colonel Gordon has paid it forward with this compilation of leadership lessons. Every leader needs stories to share, you never want to miss the opportunity to talk about those life lessons. Col Gordon provides a source for every leader to turn to. A good companion to William J Bennett’s The Book of Virtues.” LtGen John Toolan, USMC (Ret.), former commander, Marine Forces Pacific and I Marine Expeditionary Force
“From his first days as a Citadel cadet and during his thirty years of active Marine service, Colonel Gordon studied great leaders and great leadership in order to record best principals, best practices, and best publications. But Colonel Gordon is not just a scholar of leadership but an outstanding practitioner as well. He has used those observations he recorded to great effect as he led Marines in war and peace; during training and operations; and with high achievers and leadership challenges alike at all levels of the Corps. Now he has distilled thirty plus years of study into 50 lessons of leadership applicable to all leaders, military and civilian, who desire to maximize their skills at 'getting things done though people'. A true textbook for all leaders or those who hope to be.” LtGen Richard P. Mills, USMC (Ret.), president and chief executive officer Marine Corps University Foundation, former commander, Marine Forces Reserve
“After over 30 years in uniform, I hadn't expected to learn something new about leadership from a book – but Tom Gordon proved me wrong. His engaging style brings to life a well covered topic with insights that are extraordinarily perceptive and informative. If you are going to read one book on the topic of leadership – this is it.” —Col. Andy Milburn, USMC (Ret.), former commander, Marine Raider Regiment, author When the Tempest Gathers: From Mogadishu to the Fight Against ISIS, a Marine Special Operations Commander at War
“Tom Gordon has skillfully compiled a treasure trove of useful leadership lessons in his very compelling narrative. A must read for those focused on becoming better leaders and team builders!”LtGen Mike Dana, USMC (Ret.), former deputy commandant, Installations and Logistics  
“Brilliantly useful! Fifty seemingly simple ideas of enormous potential explained for ease of implementation. These maxims outline everything a slated commander needs to consider prior to taking charge. This is not another book on leadership theory. Colonel Gordon turns theory into practice with leadership maxims that can be applied with great effect and has brilliantly captured it all in a book to be used and never be relegated to a shelf. An 'aha!' on every page, this compendium of distilled leadership truths can be applied by commanders at all levels. This is an absolute must read for any first time commander.” LtGen David Beydler, USMC (Ret.), former commander, Marine Forces Central Command and II Marine Expeditionary Force  
Marine Maxims is an exceptional guidebook for Marine leaders at any level and, with little modification, to military leaders in any branch of service. Today’s service members stand to learn much from his hard-earned wisdom.” —Proceedings
Marine Maxims is filled with incredibly useful leadership lessons that could enlighten military leaders at all levels. Col. Gordon not only presents valuable lessons in leadership but does so in a format that will continue to drive self-development. Col. Gordon must be commended for his dedication to leadership and education. The lessons contained within this book and his approach to improving his skills and abilities undoubtedly improved the U.S. Marine Corps. As his book continues to spread within the military community, there’s little doubt that this warrior-scholar will continue to help support and improve the leadership of the US Military well into the future.” —Small Wars Journal
“Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Thomas Gordon provides a readily accessible and thoughtful handbook for leaders at all levels based on fifty leadership principles, often hard-won, he has learned over thirty years—first as a cadet at the Citadel and then throughout his career as a Marine armor officer and senior leader. ” —Modern War Institute
Marine Maxims by Col. Thomas Gordon (Ret.) is a must read.... This book is the 'green book' of all the invaluable advice mentors bestow and a Marine leader’s life lessons learned over a career packaged in an approachable way... The tools and advice Col. Gordon conveys in this book transcend individual leadership styles or types of command.” —Marine Corps Gazette
“If you are looking for excellent synopses of aspects of leadership, chapters with useful bullet points and references for future explorations of each section’s ideas, this book is a must-have. Gordon has done an outstanding job of presenting ideas clearly and summarizing key points in ways that can be used for personal benefit as well as in guiding others in journeys to become better leaders.” —The Strategy Bridge
Marine Maxims … provides readers with a thought-provoking narrative to self-analyse and select items from in order to enable/enact professional development.” —Australian Naval Institute
Marine Maxims serves aspiring leaders as a portable textbook, a desk side primer, or a reference.” —DODReads
Marine Maxims is the culmination of a life’s work and does not disappoint. It is chock full of ‘principle-based and practical’ maxims undergirded by Colonel Gordon’s rich experience and influenced by a well curated bibliography of influential writers and titles…. Marine Maxims is a very personal book that the author uses to share success and shortcomings in equal measure, guiding the reader through 50 practical maxims—one per chapter. They are neatly presented under fourteen logical sections and thoughtfully help leaders of all stripes and ranks to divine the art of enlightened and informed leadership. The simplicity and logic of the book are a strength and its utility cannot be overstated. In crisply titled chapters, aspiring leaders will find ‘dos’ and ‘don'ts’ that—in ‘real’ professional life—are vexing to master but will assist in avoiding repeatable mistakes, facilitate learning, and avoid the most common leadership pitfalls…. Marine Maxims practical advice and utility will endure for years to come.” —Crossroads of the Corps